Abueva proves worth with solid outings vs Australia, Japan
Consider it mission accomplished for “The Beast 2.0.”
Previously dropped from consideration for the second window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers, the Alaska forward made sure to show everyone that he earned his spot as he lived up to his promise by showcasing his grit and intensity once again for Gilas Pilipinas.
“It feels good to play for Gilas once again and I really gave it my all,” he said.
Dealing with personal problems early in the year, Abueva missed the first three weeks of practices since its resumption in 2018, drawing the ire of Reyes, who completely took him and fellow absentee Raymond Almazan out of the pool.
Apologetic for his actions, the Kapampangan bruiser made sure to make up for his shortcomings and work his way back to the team, helping Gilas in its trainings.
That hard work paid off, with the reward coming in the form of the roster spot in both games in the second window.
Though the Philippines split its two games after suffering a 68-84 defeat to Australia on Thursday and taking an 89-84 win over Japan on Sunday, Abueva was pleased to have performed at his best in both tiffs.
“We expected to have a hard time against Australia because they’re big and they’re top 10 in the world. But we really gave it our all, and that’s the same in this game, especially that we’re playing in front of our home crowd,” he said.
Abueva’s infectious energy was in full bloom in the third quarter of the game against the Akatsuki Five at Mall of Asia Arena, diving for looseballs and relentlessly pestering the opposition on both ends of the floor.
“The game was physical, but we weren’t intimidated with what they were doing. We really fought with all our hearts. We know it won’t be an easy game, but we did our best to win here in our homecourt,” he said, pouring six of his eight points in the third frame, while also hauling down three rebounds and dishing out two assists.
His efforts, together with the rest of Gilas Pilipinas, earned the team a ticket to the second round of the Asian qualifiers with a 3-1 card.
But Abueva said that there’s no such thing as a no-bearing game when you’re wearing the national tri-colors, and fans can expect a better and more prepared Philippine team come the third window later this year.
“We heard that we’ve already advanced to the second round, but we won’t give up the games in the third window. For us, our focus should be preparing for those games,” he said.
— Randolph B. Leongson (@RLeongsonINQ) February 25, 2018
Gilas Pilipinas takes on Chinese Taipei on June 29 in Taiwan, before a rematch against Australia on July 2 at Philippine Arena.
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